This book may have a babyish name, but the story isn’t. It all starts out when 11 year old Sandy’s dad gets drunk and throws his little brother down the stairs, killing Terry. Sandy has another brother, nine year old Jack. Jack’s real name is John but he likes the name Jack because it goes with jungle, Jungle Jack. He likes it better because he loves jungles. After this incident their lives will change forever.
Sandy knew that Terry wasn’t killed accidentally.
“Terry didn’t accidentally fall by himself down the living room stairs like we all said he did. Our family never worked right because of Dad’s drinking. Whatever it was that made him drink, we never knew. All we knew was that when he drank, he got angry, and when he got angry, he took it out on us.”
One day after school Jack and Sandy get picked up by their dad. He tells them to get in the car and not to ask any questions. They drove from Pennsylvania all the way to Florida without stopping. There they got out and spent the night at a motel.
Soon after, the boys stole there dad’s wallet and bought supplies to survive out in a protected swamp called Crocodile Swamp.
Most of this book is about the boys’ adventure in Crocodile Swamp. I can’t give away the ending; it’s really sad and suspenseful, but a cool way to finish the story.
“What happened to her?” Jack asked. “Is she dead?”
“I think so. I hit her hard. I didn’t mean to hit her so hard….But I couldn’t stand it anymore: her sitting there and moaning and talking to herself. I punched her head against the radiator.”
“You just left her there?” Jack asked.
“I thought she was dead. I thought I killed her . . . . I didn’t know what to do…I…”
“Don’t talk…” I told him. “You’re using yourself up.” He rolled his head back to look at the sky. I watched the sky’s reflection in his eye. Jack held his hand. None of us spoke for a long while.
“Did you boys see all the white birds?” He asked, looking up at the fading light. “I wonder what kind they were.”
“Ibises” Jack said, but he was already dead. I gently closed his eye with my fingers….
Tompkins County Public Library